Utrecht (U): Nicolaïkerk
Nicolaïkerk ("Church of St. Nicolas", also known
as Klaaskerk) is one of Utrecht's original four parish churches.
This church was the center of a large parish, that even included
several villages like De Bilt and Vechten. Its history goes back
to the 12th century, when a three-aisle vaulted cruciform basilican
church in Romanesque style was built. Of this church the front
is the most noticeable surviving part. Unusual for a parish church
are its two towers. Both towers have been crowned with tall spires
in the past. The southern tower was the first to be changed,
and was heightened in 1586 to accomodade a carillon. The northern
tower lost its spire during the tornado of 1674, and was given
the current roof afterwards.
The church underwent several changes in Romanesque style since
it was built. But between 1444 and 1479 a new church in Gothic
style was built, although many parts of the old church were used
which are still visible inside of the church. The result was
the current hall-church.
Although originally a parish-church, the St. Nicolas became a
monastic church in 1529, when the Carmelites where forced to
hand over their monastery to the Knights of Saint John, who themselves
had been forced to leave their monastery which was demolished
to make room for castle Vredenburg. The Carmelites found a new
home in the St. Nicolas parish. In 1566 protestant vandals damaged
the church, and finally took over the building permanently in
1579. The interior was completely demolished in order to make
it fit for protestant services. Apart from a few periods when
the church was used to accomodate soldiers or horses, it has
been a protestant church ever since. Utrecht's Central Museum
occasionally uses it for exhibitions as well.